Sarah Finding Fit

An unconventional look at fitness... my journey in reaching goals, laughing and having a bunch of outstanding adventures.

Posts tagged lifting

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Starting Somewhere

I’m coming up on two years of crossfit… between all the time and money invested, I think that on the whole, my moments of mayhem in the gym, on the race course and twisting in a room without mirrors has made me a better athlete and a better person. I’ve sort of grown into myself. If I were to look in the mirror, I’d see that behind the crazy hair and melty mascara, there is a more self-aware reflection… the mirrored image likely wouldn’t do the transformation justice. In all honesty, I’d never really dreamed of achieving even some of my successes or thought that in the process of finding strength, I’d also figure out food. I never anticipated that soul searching with the stars would teach me to quell fear or that I’d find inspiration in the folks that surround me daily at a gym. Over the last few years, I slowly figured myself out, trusted my gut and relied on my own intuition… life, in turn, pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Along the road, I’ve found that life is often fueled by change. Scary but true. As I look ahead toward new adventures, I’m excited at the world of possibilities… the promise of lots of laughs… the excitement of new experiences. But change isn’t always comfortable in the moment that it happens. It’s hard – perhaps that’s what makes it good. I believe that the quotes in the frames that are now boxed up on my living room floor talk about how things always happen for a reason and to just start somewhere. As life shifts, I’m closing the current chapter, taking a leap, and jumping into something new… starting somewhere.

Health and fitness is one of the most important things in my life. Yet, in the midst of a million exciting new changes, I find myself somehow triaging life duties… exercise being the first and biggest causality. Tending to the most needed items first – I’ve been picking sleep over strength. I’m proud of myself for managing to keep my diet in check, but not proud of the numbers on the board or my recent habit of self-judgment and comparison. It’s hard to see everyone PR and be happy for them while you struggle with the basics… while you yearn for the competition, camaraderie and available gym time that you watch them expend. As they get better, I feel more and more stalled. Stuck in a sort of in-between… unable to make workouts my world… but wanting to continue to excel. Instead, I’m caught balancing work and packing and soon school and life in general. I’m plagued by lack of sleep and super stress – each in itself is enough to destroy progress. A fact that I know well. It’s only been a week of irregularity, but I feel awkward and heavy… the loop around the building seems foreign and fierce. I’ve hit a plateau. I’m back at the beginning. The things that felt flawless a week ago now just feel broken and belabored.

In my non-gym life, I’m the luckiest girl in the world, but when it comes to my athleticism, I feel like everything is somehow cruelly unfair… and it bleeds over into the day-to-day. My confidence is faded. My realm feels rocked. I’ve come to the stark realization that I am not a super-hero; I am not genetically modified. The hour of the day that once set me free now feels suffocating; it leaves me breathless. But I know, it’s a double edged sword, a necessary evil.

So, how do I start over? Push past? Rekindle my romance with workouts? How do I remind myself that it really isn’t about how much I can deadlift or if I can touch my toes to the bar… Even if everyone else is focused on the former, how do I zero in on having it be about building a better me, one day at a time. Maybe even one step at a time.

Today, I started just somewhere. Coaxing myself into the box. Forcing myself to approach the bar. Gutting through the wod with tears in my eyes. End goal: finish. That alone is sometimes harder than ever imagined. I’m trying to erase all expectations. Wage war on my brain; quiet the voice inside my head. Stop thinking. Stop judging. I need make peace with falling and failure and unfairness. I need to remind myself of the small successes… that in the last two years I’ve gotten faster. I can do a pull-up. I can climb a rope. I bend deeper and twist further. I trust myself.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I just have to convince myself to keep walking forward.

Filed under crossfit food Nutrition sleep stress lifting life change gym plateau Better than yesterday bettertodaythanyesterday moving mirrors yoga competition

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This Means War


41. The faded black sharpie on my arms is a reminder of the weekend. So are the stiff shoulders and sore quads. I completed 9 workouts, but walking down stairs seems almost impossible.

You could see our breath in the air when we’d arrived at the field house on Saturday before dawn. The pull-up cage in the middle of the arena was a very tall and daunting reminder of why we were here… a CrossFit-style Cold War. And man, was it cold. I don’t think any of us knew what to truly expect. For three of us, it was our first real CrossFit competition. But after our final strategy session on Friday night, we’d agreed that we were in it to win it - go big or go home. We’d spent the weeks prior loading our workouts with mile long buddy carries and sledge hammer strikes. We were prepared for the first few pre-announced WODs, but the others were a mystery. Anything was fair game.

The 2 days involved everything from swimming and air squats to carrying atlas stones, hanging from pull-up bars and leaping walls, to mile runs with weighted rucksacks. And, laughing… lots of laughing. This blog would be pages if I detailed all of the ins and outs of the weekend, so instead, here is a short highlight reel mixed in with some lessons learned:

  • When you think you packed enough clothes, pack more. I had on 5 layers Saturday and still couldn’t get warm.
  • Wearing flip-flops to a competition in the middle of December is a terrible idea. Cold toes = cold core.
  • If you are double under jump-roping rockstar, make sure you can still rock out some single unders… they might come back to haunt you. Jay and Dave doing 200 single unders. Amateurs!
  • Work as a team. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
  • When a teammate says they are scared of an activity, there is likely a reason. Some people are just not good at med-ball cleans. Sorry Steve. Lesson learned.
  • Rely on your teammates, but also rely on yourself. Trust your gut.
  • When your coach offers to give you athletic tape to take with you, do it. There will likely be a need for it.
  • But desperate times call for desperate measures… when in a pinch ask a mom, she’ll likely feel bad and let you borrow some.
  • "When you go up, I go down."
  • Cement stones are heavy, awkward to carry, and hurt your ears. But apparently it’s easy for some people to roll a 120-pound atlas stone from one shoulder to the other while still moving forward.
  • Atlas stones make you walk sideways.
  • Consistency is key. Be decently good at everything. Easy enough said.
  • "Take a breath and go" and "don’t you even look at that clock" are probably the last thingsyou want to hear when you’re 6+ minutes into an "as many reps as possible" workout.
  • 17 front squats off the floor at 95# - I call that a win.
  • Judge: “Wait you’re not planning to do ANY pull-ups?” Me: Nope Judge: “Nice. Well that makes my job easy” (Marks 0 on my score card) whomp whomp.
  • Crosswords and CrossFit don’t mix. The entire team made considerable progress on our 1 bonus point crossword puzzle while doing the one-mile rucksack run. Just kidding. It never left Steve’s pocket.
  • Workouts that include things like “man makers” and “snatch punishers” are hard core. Fun, but brutal.
  • Things that look easy can be deceivingly difficult!
  • Know what work you have to complete ahead of time, because sometimes even the judge may stop counting. “You’re done, no wait, you have 20 more reps? Okay, NOW you’re done.”
  • Judging is like life, it isn’t always fair. Deal with it.
  • Lunging a lot makes your legs feel like Jell-o.
  • The catastro-fudge that was our team’s sledgehammer experience. Count your own reps. Screaming at the judge “WE HAVE OUR OWN REP SCHEME” probably isn’t the best choice of words in any situation.
  • Having the team meltdown caught on film… priceless.
  • There is a mixed feeling of wanting to barf, pee yourself, and run for your life when your drill sergeant like judge screams at you to “RUN, RUN, RUN” half way through the workout.
  • Watching wind-up toy Steve take off like a rocket and bolt back into the gym at a zillion miles an hour is also priceless.
  • Apparently there are moments when none of us are impressed.
  • Wait, they played music during our Wod’s?
  • Hanging from a monkey bar is harder than you think. We give Steve credit for non-chalently thinking he’d hang from the cage while the rest of us did 80 med-ball cleans, but laughed our asses off when at rep 20 he was hanging from his pinky fingers and frantically screaming for help. Guys? Guys?
  • Standing under a cage with your arms in the air calling for a boost from your teammates like a little kid isn’t an ideal position to be in during a Wod. Funny, but not ideal.
  • Spelling abilities go downhill quickly while crossfitting. Rabdo… Rhabdo… Rhabdomyolysis…
  • After competing all day, you want food fast. Waiting at Ray’s the Third for 40 … no, 50 … no, 60 minutes for a table. Hostess: “You all ready to be seated? Okay… just give me three more minutes.” Not cool!
  • Mind over matter, except when your grip just totally fails. Then there is absolutely nothing you can do besides drop the bar.
  • All girls like the song “Call Me Maybe.” For those that it helped during the mini-Wod on Saturday, you’re welcome.

For me personally, the toughest battle came on Sunday in the foggy early morning air. A mile ruck run as a team. I knew it was coming, but my heart sank when they made the announcement. Even though I’m a pretty regular runner and shit, I just did a GoRuck, I felt like the weakest link… I’m a woman of pace, damn it… and the last runner to cross the finish line would mark the recorded time. We’d toyed with having two runners run ahead, but decided to stay as a group and help each other push the pace. Joking before we took off that we were aiming for 8 minutes… are you crazy!? I think my fear of the mile run stems from High School. Those four stupid laps around the track in gym class have forever made me put added pressure on myself when it comes to the words “timed” and “mile.” Feels like some superficial benchmark of success. My goal on Sunday: just keep swimming… I mean running. The backpack felt heavy and awkward - I synched it tight across my hips eliminating my ability to breath. I couldn’t feel my toes. We took off along the path and the up a steady clay incline. The teams were taking off every minute on the minute, and we could see the team ahead crest the peak. Over a log and back on the grass… Dave and Jay took the lead, Steve stuck with me and pushed me to the finish… 7 seconds behind the team to take first in the event. Gerrrr! But, looking back and realizing that a mile felt pretty short was astonishing - a short 10:07 with weight. Great way to warm-up on a dewy and cold Sunday morning after a full Saturday of workouts.

We wrapped up the weekend with a good long chipper on Sunday night. After placing well in most of the weekend events, we knew that our score in the final Wod didn’t matter, we were landing on the podium either way. It took off a lot of the pressure and just let us have a good time. An out of the blue afternoon rain shower made our military crawl with a ruck muddy, and we got to close it out with buddy carries and SITUPS - boom! My wheelhouse!

Maybe it was the neon wrist band… or what we’d like to call the “dreamcatcher”, either way, we rocked the scaled division of the competition… and we gorged ourselves on pizza and a pitcher of beer as a Sunday night celebration. Aside from the bruised collarbone and added thirst/hunger/fatigue the past few days, I’d say we came out unscathed. Two loads of laundry, a good scrub, yoga and a full body roll out… Dave’s jeep still smells a little like weight plates and wet ruck sacks, but aside from that and the singlet wearing, barbell holding, little golden man sitting next to my TV, the weekend war seems like a memory. Back to business as usual. Another adventure for the books. It’s hard to believe that the Cold War came and went… and that we won.

Filed under crossfit competition coldwar running lifting workouts team weekend